Christian services celebrate Holy Week

By Susan Kantor

While a significant number of students are heading home for the Easter weekend, Christian churches throughout the University and Champaign-Urbana are continuing with traditional Easter festivities.

“(Easter) is based, of course, on Biblical stories of Jesus rising from the dead on the third day after his death,” said Pastor John Setterlund of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 909 S. Wright St. “Its particular emphasis is that through our faith and trust in Him, we’re connected so that we also have the premise of life after death, eternal life.”

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Holy week began last Sunday with Palm Sunday and continues through this week until Easter Sunday. Many churches are having services Monday through Thursday, with Holy Thursday services beginning Thursday evening. Easter services continue on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

The Holy Thursday service for St. John’s Catholic Chapel, 604 E. Armory Ave., celebrates Jesus instituting Holy Communion said Andrew Heckman, director of the Chapel. The service also celebrates Jesus instituting the priesthood of the Catholic Church.

“(Christians) are all celebrating the same thing, but the biggest difference (with Catholicism) is the institution of the priesthood on Holy Thursday,” Heckman said. “The way in which things are celebrated, that varies greatly, but when you look at the overall theme, what they do and what we do is pretty much the same.”

Friday marks the commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus.

“Between the Thursday service and Friday, (St. Andrew’s has) an all-night prayer vigil where members of the church, who are generally students here, take turns coming in for each hour of the night,” Setterlund said. “(They do) praying, reading and meditating in the chapel so that the chapel is in business for the entire night.”

The Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine, 1011 S. Wright St., will be holding an Easter Vigil late Saturday evening with the chapel lit only by candles that each parishioner will receive as he or she enters the chapel.

The McKinley Presbyterian Church, 809 S. Fifth St. is having their worship service at their regular time on Easter Sunday but extra songs will be added for the occasion, said Reverend Heidi Weatherford.

“For Christians as a whole, Holy Week is a big deal,” Heckman said. “But for the Roman Catholic Church, this really is the high point of our year, even more so than Christmas.”